Digital Media in Crisis

Digital Media in Crisis

This morning mass shootings occurred in the capital. Twenty-two victims were killed, while five police officers were wounded. The first shooting took place at a public event, where a gunman killed 9 civilians and wounded three police officers. The second shooting took place one hour later near a government building in the same area. The police identified the suspects responsible for both attacks shortly after the shootings.

Imagine, you are a crisis communicator. Are you prepared to communicate crisis on social media platforms?

Some agencies have pre-scripted emergency tweets or hashtags in case crisis situations occur.

In the digital era, social media is the main tool where crisis situations are communicated. These are terrorist attacks, natural disasters or other crisis situations, which are nowadays, communicated on social media platforms in particular: Twitter or Facebook.

Also people are becoming more focused on social media and if they are victims or somehow involved in a crisis situation, they have an extremely strong need of sharing their experience of crisis situations or accidents on real-time social media platforms.

For example there was a train derailment where many people were injured and even lost their lives but there was a woman who was unharmed and realised what had happened. Her first reaction was to take a photo and post it on social media with commentary and then call an emergency line!

As a fan of TED talks I would like to share a link to an insightful TEDx talk of Melissa Agnes who reveals a secret to successful crisis management in the 21st century.

As we all know social media is mainly used for:

-providing information and warning
-raising public awareness about risks and crisis
-monitoring crisis situations (identifying survivors and victims, collecting funding and support)

Nevertheless, social media is also a communication tool helping terrorist organisations such as ISIS to radicalize and recruit fighters to join their war.

Once the main ISIS leader posted a call for recruits on Twitter and all Muslims around the world hilariously replied to his post for example: “Mom said no” or “Only if there’s free pizza”. Many other answers you will find here.

Social Media in NUMBERS during crisis:

  1. News of Osama Bin Laden’s death was all over Twitter well before President Obama confirmed the news on TV. Within 12 hours there had been 40,000 blog posts and an amazing 2.2 million Tweets. For reference find out more on:
  1. ISIS’s social media app.
    Reaching an all-time high of almost 40,000 tweets in one day as ISIS marched into the northern Iraqi city of Mosul last week:
  1. Paris attacks.
    More than 10.7 million tweets were posted about Paris between Friday and Saturday:



2.#ParisAttacks on November 13th

3. #NepalEarthquake

Nowadays social media is used for various purposes and there’s no doubt it is used for sharing information about crisis as well. Essentially what the crisis communicators should remember is their audience. They should know what is important for people being affected by the crisis, their families and friends.

To sum up they should:
-inform about a crisis with an appropriate tone of voice and content
-answer all questions in timely manner
-ensure the provided information is trustworthy and not just speculation or reposted from another organisation
-use hashtags to help people find relevant crisis related information
– tailor messages to the audience’s needs
-give a sense of security

Sharing information on the Internet means sharing information across the world.
Even if it sometimes means an ability of a gesture like changing the colours of your profile picture or a minute of silence, it allows people to show their support and it’s an evidence of people’s solidarity.




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